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Harlow-based Niche Free-from Kitchen upgrade food operation

Business / Tue 16th Mar 2021 at 10:51am

PETERBOROUGH-based Caterquip UK has upgraded the food production operation for the Niche Free-from Kitchen in Harlow reports cateringinsight.com

Niche Free-From Kitchen is a central production kitchen producing dietary and dietetic meals for a number of Niche brands serving the retail, airline, travel and private healthcare sectors.

The facility is called upon to produce up to 6,000 meals per day on a two-shift system with a maximum capacity of 9,000 meals per day at three shifts.

The company needed to scale up and modernise its operational capacity and realise its desire to provide a modern food production facility.

Niche had a desired budget, meaning that fitting brand new equipment was cost prohibitive – in this case a price tag of circa £320k. Therefore in November 2019 it approached Caterquip UK and set up a consultation process to design, supply and install the kitchen.

Caterquip UK is a specialist in the supply of professionally reconditioned catering equipment. MD Dominic Ricciardi detailed: “Our ‘niche’ is giving clients access to Europe’s premium brands which are eye wateringly expensive when new. We can save clients up to 60% and offer a viable alternative for budget holders.”

Caterquip submitted designs for a kitchen that would operate to the required service brief including a high-capacity warewashing function.

A project budget of £165k was agreed, including a new bespoke extraction system, designed and installed by Caterquip’s sister company Commercial Kitchens Direct. This presented Niche with a saving to the tune of £155,000, or 48% of wholly new equipment costs.

It was agreed for the project to start in March 2020, and despite the first coronavirus lockdown, Niche agreed that Caterquip would continue the scheme, as it fell within the government guidelines for essential work.

Ricciardi recalled: “There were huge challenges with working during the lockdown, including, bringing in materials, making sure the team were working safely, finding the right team and contractors that would work during lockdown.”

Caterquip supplied and installed the equipment, which comprised a Rational 20 grid combi oven, three Blue Seal double basket electric fryers, a Blue Seal chargrill, a Kuppersbusch 150 litre pressurised bratt pan, two Metos Proveno 150 litre jacket kettles with stirrers and a Winterhalter passthrough dishwasher.

Foster equipment installed included a walk-in cold room and a walk-in freezer room, 120 litre roll-in blast chiller and an upright fridge. While Williams’ provision comprised a 200 litre roll-in blast freezer, a three-door saladette and an upright freezer. The dealer also provided fabrications, including tables, hand sinks and prep sinks.

Ricciardi was able to oversee the whole turnkey project which included all the M&E installation.

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